Overlooking a popular Newquay surfing beach, the Blue Reef Aquarium is a stunning collection of marine displays from the Cornish coast to as far afield as the Caribbean
Situated on Newquay's Towan Beach, the Blue Reef Aquarium is a stunning place to visit. Not only does it house the many species of fish and marine creatures from around the Cornish coast, but also hundreds of tropical species.
Many of these are on view in the gigantic ocean display which is viewed from an underwater tunnel. In addition there are more than thirty more displays featuring marine life from around the world.
The aquarium recreates a variety of underwater habitats from the Cornish coast to the Mediterranean and, even further afield, to the tropical splendour of the coral reefs of the Caribbean. The main a 250,000 litre display houses numerous colourful reef fish, including angelfish and puffer fish, in addition to stingrays, moray eels, giant wrasse, giant groupers and black and white tip reef sharks. The series of underwater viewing windows from inside the walkthrough tunnel give great views of the reef. A different angle is seen from the surface, where a boardwalk overlooks the coral atoll.
Other displays include octopuses, seahorses, giant crabs and lobsters. The fresh water turtle displays are stunning. In Turtle Creek, it is possible to see mata mata turtles, alligator snapping turtles, mud turtles and fly-river turtles, some of which are quite bizarre. Among some of the new species on display are prehistoric African helmeted turtles, snapping turtles from Florida and the Australian pig-nosed turtle. There is also a rescue facility here for sea turtles.
Blue Reef also has a pioneering captive breeding programme for a wide range of species. The nursery displays house everything from baby clownfish to seahorses. Other breeding successes at the aquarium include Bangaii cardinal fish, sharks, rays, pipefish and cuttlefish.
Interestingly, the aquarium is propagating its own hard coral. This is demonstrated in a display highlighting the threats faced by coral reefs throughout the world.
The depths of the oceans are home to many strange and frightening creatures, ranging from stinging jellyfish to the giant Pacific octopus. One display features the hunting skills of deep sea predators and shows the camouflage used by attackers and their prey. A recent display illustrates the secret world of the jellyfish and follows its life cycle in the 'Jelly Babies' Nursery'.
Children under three years are admitted free and inclusive family tickets are available. The aquarium has baby changing facilities, is undercover and has easy access for wheelchairs and push-chairs.
Multi-level displays mean children and the disabled are able to have a good view of exhibits. An entrance to the aquarium from Beach Road avoids any steps.
The Blue Reef Cafe offers a wide selection of drinks, snacks and meals and the Blue Reef Gift Shop is filled with a wide range of souvenirs, educational toys, cards and posters. The Blue Reef Aquarium is open daily throughout the year, apart from on Christmas Day.